Justia Virginia Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing a suit by Plaintiffs, local taxpayers, for declaratory and injunctive relief filed against a sheriff and a locality concerning the sheriff's cooperation agreement with the federal government regarding the enforcement of federal immigration laws, holding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to file this action.The sheriff entered into an agreement with the United States Immigration and Customers Enforcement authorizing the sheriff and his officers to, among other things, interrogate any person they detain about the person's right to be or remain in the United States and serve warrants for immigration violations. Plaintiffs filed this complaint seeking to have the courts prohibit the alleged use of local tax revenue to enforce federal immigration law and assert that the use of local funds for that purpose is unlawful. The circuit court sustained Defendants' demurrers, concluding that Plaintiffs could not demonstrate that the sheriff acted outside the scope of his duty and authority in entering into the agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding that Plaintiffs' allegations were insufficient to establish local taxpayer standing. View "McClary v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court concluding that the Fairfax County Police Department's automated license plate recognition (ALPR) satisfied the definition of an "information system" under the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (Data Act), Va. Code 2.2-3800 through -3809, holding that the ALPR system does not constitute an "information system" within the meaning of the Data Act.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the ALPR system did not satisfy the statutory definition of an "information system" because it did not contain "the name, personal number, or other identifying particulars of a data subject," and therefore, the Police Department's passive use of the ALPR system was lawful under the Data Act; and (2) the resolution of this case favorably to the Police Department foreclosed the recovery of attorneys' fees. View "Neal v. Fairfax County Police" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court awarding Tracey Martin her agreed-upon share of proceeds of John Wood's insurance policy after he committed suicide, holding that the circuit court did not err.During their divorce proceeding, Wood agreed to maintain a preexisting life insurance policy for the partial benefit of Tracey Martin. The circuit court incorporated the agreement (the agreement) into the final divorce decree. Six years later, in defiance of the court order, Wood removed Martin as a beneficiary and designated his brothers, his new wife, and a friend as beneficiaries on the policy. Wood committed suicide two days later. In a lawsuit initiated by Martin, the insurer interpleaded the policy proceeds. The circuit court awarded Martin her share of the proceeds consistent with the divorce decree. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Va. Code 38.2-3122(B) did not bar Martin's claim because the final divorce decree that ratified and incorporated the agreement created an equitable assignment; and (2) faced with competing equities, the circuit court did not err in finding Martin's beneficial interest in the interpleader proceeds to be superior to that of the new beneficiaries. View "Wood v. Martin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court determining that the Board of County Supervisors of Prince William County, Virginia had the authority to dissolve the corporate status of Dumfries-Triangle Rescue Squad, Inc. (DTRS), holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that the Board had the power to dissolve the corporate status of DTRS .The Board filed a complaint for declaratory judgment asserting that the Board had the authority to dissolve DTRS's corporate status under Code 32.1-111.4:7(D). The circuit court determined that DTRS was subject to the corporate dissolution authority of the Board pursuant to section 32.1-111.4:7(D) and appointed a receiver to wind up DTRS's corporate affairs, as requested by the Board. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because DTRS was not incorporated pursuant to section 32.1-111.4:7, the Board could not rely on that authority to dissolve its corporate status; and (2) DTRS was not the type of entity that was subject to dissolution under that section. View "Dumfries-Triangle Rescue Squad v. Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission finding that Claimant suffered a compensable injury to her right shoulder, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the legal standard for determining whether Claimant suffered a compensable "injury by accident" to her shoulder.Claimant, a math teacher, slipped on a puddle on her classroom floor and fell on her right side. Claimant filed claims for an award of benefits by the Commission, claiming that the fall injured her right shoulder. The Commission ruled that Claimant established a compensable injury by accident to her shoulder. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the standard for determining whether Claimant had suffered an injury by accident to her shoulder. View "Alexandria City Public Schools v. Handel" on Justia Law

by
In this interpleader action seeking a judicial resolution of two disputed claims of ownership of proceeds from the sale of unclaimed corporate stock the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that the buyer of the original stock, not the seller, had a super equitable claim of ownership, holding that the circuit court did not err.MCC Acquisition, LC purchased all of the assets of M.C. Construction, which included Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield stock. M.C. Construction never delivered the stock certificates, however, because it had never possessed them. Later, the Treasurer sold the stock and filed this interpleader action. The circuit court awarded the proceeds from the sale of the unclaimed corporate stock to MCC Acquisition, finding that MCC Acquisition had obtained equitable title to the Trigon stock. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly awarded the interpleader stock proceeds to MCC Acquisition; and (2) did not err in rejecting the argument that the statute of limitations barred MCC Acquisition's in rem claim. View "Day v. MCC Acquisition, LC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court granting Isle of Wight County's motion to strike International Paper Company's application for correction of a machinery and tools tax assessment that International Paper claimed was nonuniform, invalid, and illegal, holding that the court erred in sustaining the County's motion to strike as to counts 4 and 5 regarding uniformity.International Paper owned a paper production facility in the County that utilized paper-making machinery for its manufacturing operations. International Paper filed an application for a correction of the County's "nonuniform, invalid & illegal" assessment of International Paper's machinery and tools taxes for tax year 2017. The refund action had five counts. After a bench trial, the County moved to strike International Paper's evidence and claims. The circuit court granted the motion to strike and dismissed the refund action with prejudice. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in sustaining the County's motion to strike as to three counts regarding vested rights, separation of powers, and the County's alleged lack of statutory authority; but (2) the circuit court erred in sustaining the County's motion to strike as to two counts regarding uniformity. View "International Paper Co. v. County of Isle of Wight" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law
by
The Supreme Court held that the misidentification of a defendant in a complaint was a misnomer, not a misjoinder, and therefore, the filing of a new complaint to correct the error after a nonsuit was not barred by the statute of limitations.Calvin Hampton, who was injured in a car accident, filed a negligence complaint seeking damages. The complaint identified the driver of the other vehicle as Michael Meyer. Later, however, Hampton learned that Noah Meyer, and not his father Michael, had been driving the vehicle at the time of the collision. Hampton subsequently obtained an order nonsuiting his complaint. Hampton then filed a new complaint asserting that, under this Court's decision in Richmond v. Volk, 291 Va. 60 (2016), the use of the wrong name in his complaint was merely a misnomer rather than a misjoinder. Noah filed a plea in bar asserting that the new complaint was time-barred. The circuit court sustained the plea in bar, ruling that naming Michael in the original complaint was a misjoinder, not a misnomer. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the misidentification of the driver in the original complaint were merely a misnomer, not a misjoinder; and (2) therefore, under Volk, the new complaint was not barred by the statute of limitations. View "Hampton v. Meyer" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Plaintiff's request for attorneys' fees from the unrepresented parties in her partition suit under Va. Code 8.01-92 and denying Plaintiff's requests to share the costs for bringing the action and for an award of the rental value of the subject property from the parties who occupied it, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiff and her four siblings inherited real property from their mother. Plaintiff later brought suit to partition the property and requested that the trial court compel its sale and divide the proceeds according to the parties' respective rights and interests after subtracting the expenses of Plaintiff's suit. Two siblings appeared at trial pro se. The trial court ordered that the property be sold and the proceeds be split equally among all five siblings and denied Plaintiff's request for fair rental value. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) did not err in refusing to award Plaintiff reasonable attorney's fees out of the shares of the unrepresented siblings in the proceeds of the sale of the property; (2) did not err in failing to divide the costs of the partition suit equally among the siblings; and (3) did not err in failing to award fair rental value. View "Berry v. Fitzhugh" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed an order of the State Corporation Commission denying Walmart's petitions filed pursuant to Va. Code 56-577(A)(4) seeking the Commission's permission to combine the electric-energy demand of separate Walmart locations to qualify to buy electricity from sources other than the incumbent public utilities regulated by the Commission, holding that the Commission exercised its delegated discretion in a manner consistent with its statutory authority.On appeal, Walmart conceded that the Commission was given the discretion under section 56-577(A)(4) to grant or deny Walmart's request but that the Commission acted arbitrarily and capriciously and erred as a matter of law in denying its petitions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission interpreted section 56-577(A)(4) correctly; (2) there was no error in the Commission's fact-finding; and (3) the Commission did not abuse its discretion in denying Walmart's motion to reconsider. View "Wal-Mart Stores East, LP v. State Corporation Commission" on Justia Law